Education

Parents, pupils stage demo over closure of Bridge International schools

bridge-school-1024x576Parents and pupils of Bridge International Academies on Saturday demonstrated against a court ruling ordering them to close.

Uganda’s High Court on Friday ordered the closure of a chain of low-cost private schools backed by Microsoft and Facebook founders Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Judge Patricia Basaza Wasswa ruled the 63 Bridge International Academies provided unsanitary learning conditions, used unqualified teachers and were not properly licensed.

On Saturday, the parents and pupils demonstrated demanding president Yoweri Museveni’s intervention.

James Black, a parent who chose Bridge International for his six children, said he appreciated the low fees of around $28 per term, or a third of what he used to pay, and disagreed with the decision.

“The government says that the facilities are not clean but when I visit the school I look at the kitchen and latrines and they are fine,” he said.

“Bridge schools are mushrooming and many of the officials in the Ministry own private schools and I think that they are scared that they will lose pupils and their fees.”

The ruling is a blow to Bridge International which has expanded rapidly since its inception in 2008 offering cheap, standardised, technology-driven education in developing countries in Africa and Asia.

Under the Bridge International model teachers read scripted lessons word-for-word from a tablet computer that also records student attendance and assessments. Gates’ and Zuckerberg’s foundations are among the company’s high-profile backers.

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